Remember those last couple of weeks of the college semester, when you had a huge paper due on top of all the finals you had to cram for as part of your regular course load and on top of it you were still trying to have a social life because ... well, because it's college and not really real? But by the time you got that paper turned in your brain was a dried up, ossified rock from so much focus on the same topic?
I actually don't remember that because I commuted to state college and tended to start papers two nights before they were due because ... well, it was less real than your actual college and I didn't care all that much. But I'm generally aware of what that feels like from talking to people who put more into their educations than me.
And I bet it felt very much like what the last days before Tom Brady hits free agency feels like for me. At this point, it's a slog. Something that is constantly in my head when it hits the pillow and when my eyes open in the morning. Its my only shower thought. Every text feels like it could be breaking news. Possibly THE news, good or bad. The only difference is when you're working on a paper, you can go to church or vote or the town dump and not get stopped by someone needing to ask, "What's going to happen?" I can't. This is my reality. And it's exhausting.
And in that spirit, here is today's hot Rumor du Jour, brought to you by the fossilized, petrified shell of what once was my brain: That Tom Brady is going to sign with the 49ers to play in his ancestral homeland. It started first with Deion Sanders then with Peter King:
I think I heard Sunday the speculation—from Deion Sanders in this case, but he’s not the first and will not be the last—about how Tom Brady should play for the Niners. So let’s do the math.
• Niners are $13.1 million under the proposed 2020 cap.
• Jimmy Garoppolo is due to cost $26.6 million against the cap in 2020.
• Let’s say, conservatively, Brady could be signed to a two-year deal with a cap charge of $22 million in 2020.
That leaves the Niners, barring a huge round of cap-related player cuts, out of the free-agent market for anyone else of consequence. ... And we haven’t even gotten to this conversation between Kyle Shanahan and Garoppolo: “Uh, Jimmy, we love you. You’re our future. But we’re playing Tom Brady for the next year, maybe two. You’ll still make all your money.” And if the Niners would, say, trade Garoppolo in the midst of one of the most jam-packed QB markets in free-agency history, good luck in getting real value for Garoppolo. Finally: Who’s your quarterback on opening day 2022, John Lynch?
Then the baton was passed to Pro Football Talk:
The speculation of Brady to the 49ers won’t go away. … If Brady arrives, it would be the ultimate Peyton-Manning-takes-the-field-and-Brock-Osweiler-reacts-with-body-language moment. The 49ers wouldn’t be able to afford both players, and Garoppolo wouldn’t want to stay. (Brady probably wouldn’t want him there, either.)
Garoppolo would be traded. (Possibly back to the Patriots.) And he’d arrive at his new team with an affordable $25.4 million compensation package for 2020, plus the next year at $25.5 million and then one more season at $25.6 million. The 49ers would absorb a cap charge of only $4.2 million, thanks to a low signing bonus.
And then, like Ichor, the blood of the ancient Greek gods, the Brady-49ers rumor continued to flow down to the masses. Here is Tom E. Curran being interviewed by Mad Dog Radio:
What's your prediction. Where's Tom Brady gonna sign, where's he gonna play football next year?
"50/50. To me, it's either going to be New England or Tennessee, with the 49ers closing hard on the outside."
So you think the 49ers conversation is real?
So do you think that's from Tom, or from San Francisco?
"I think it is from both. I think there is appeal. What is interesting about that is the Patriots sent Jimmy Garoppolo out there for such short collateral, Belichick could say, 'Why don't you sign this guy when he becomes available in two years, and I'll take Jimmy back. He'll get you the Super Bowl this year that you probably could have had with Brady. And we'll start fresh.' It would be interesting to me to find out if that could happen because I think - I think - the 49ers can release Jimmy Garoppolo outright and suffer no consequences."
OK. They can. … But would Belichick get back into the Garoppolo business?
"Yes. So would McDaniels. … That would the best case scenario all around."
In a Big Picture, football history kind of way, it would be fascinating to have it play out like this. Brady going back to play for the team he grew up watching, Jimmy G returning to the team that drafted him. Brady with a planetoid-sized chip on his shoulder giving him something to prove. Garoppolo being the one guy who, in the fans' eyes at least, could be suited to replace the legend. Finally. Six years after he was drafted. To steal a line from Julian Edelman, "it'll be a hell of a story."
Too bad it's all bullshit. Brady is still re-signing with New England to play out his remaining seasons where he belongs. But tomorrow will be another rumor about another team ricocheting around the internet. And it will keep happening until this desultory exercise is over and we can get back to the business of winning another Super Bowl.